Bat skull embroidery

art, embroidery, skeleton, work in progress

Yesterday I took an impromptu trip to the beach to get away from the stifling heat and smokey air here in town. For me, that means finding something to work on in the car, because I can’t sit still for a drive that long without something to do. 

Luckily I still had the tracing around from my bat skull print. I’d already been thinking about turning it into a sewn piece instead, so I put it on some starched cloth and took it along.

Not bad for a quick embroidered sketch!

WIP Wednesday: Deer Skull Embroidery

anatomy, art, embroidery, skeleton, work in progress

For the past few months I’ve been working on a new embroidered piece. Here are some progress photos!

Step one: initial sketch.

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Step two: make a photocopy of that sketch and trace it onto some fabric using carbon paper.

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Step three: stick it in an embroidery hoop and get sewing.

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At this point most of the outlining is done, but I still need to get the shading finished.

Printed Embroidery

art, corvallis, embroidery, Prints

A few days ago I made a post about my collection of vintage printing blocks, with a teaser about a new project I used them for.

typecut embroidery.06It’s probably pretty self-explanatory–I used them as embroidery patterns. By taking them through my Challenge proof press with carbon paper, I printed them on unbleached linen, then embroidered the images.

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Printmaking and embroidery are two mediums I don’t often get to combine. Somehow using antique printing blocks as a base for a similarly antiquated medium like embroidery seems kind of right.

typecut embroidery.02These are each in either 3″ or 5″ hoops.

typecut embroidery.03And right now, they’re all available for sale at the Corvallis Art Center’s Art Shop!

typecut embroidery.07Bonus Oregonian tree embroidery:
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Type Cuts

art, corvallis, embroidery, Prints

On the shelf above my workbench there’s a box.

DSC_0602That box contains my collection of type cuts–also known as printing blocks, or letterpress cuts. They’re images etched into wood or lead, meant to be printed alongside letterpress type.

Christy Turner type cut collection

It’s an eclectic mix of images that I’ve hand picked for one reason or another. These are a few of my favorites:

Turner typecut collection.01

Turner typecut collection.02

This one is a simplified line etching of a traditional platen press–the kind of printing press used for traditional letterpress printing.

Turner typecut collection.03

As a Pacific Northwest native, I do love trees.

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And crabs.

Turner typecut collection.06

By far my strangest cut is this one–it’s about 3″ across, and was presumably used for creating dental records. Can you even imagine something as mundane as dental records being hand printed?

Turner typecut collection.06

But this one is my favorite. Surrounded by intricate images of elk and horses and trees and other oddities, this pointing hand is the jewel of my collection. It looks like metal but it’s not–this is my only wood etched type cut, carved from a single piece of wood rather than from lead (or lead mounted on a wood base).

The hand itself is probably recognizable–this design, called a manicule, has become popular in modern graphic design. They were originally used to draw attention to important text in documents and books dating back to the 12th century, a common form of marginalia on some of the earliest letterpress printed materials.

Given its history and delicate line quality, it’s hard not to love. I mean look at the individual carved lines–so much information in such sparse, elegant detail. This is what you think of when you think traditional woodcut design.

I recently used a few of my favorite cuts for a somewhat eclectic project, which I’ll explain in a later post. For now, here’s a teaser:
typecut embroidery.06

Happy Friday!

Neck Muscle Study, 2015

anatomy, art, corvallis, embroidery, skeleton, work in progress

In the spirit of my New Year’s resolution, I finally finished the muscle study I started way back in October. The original sketch for this stemmed from some neck issues I’d been having, which got me thinking in terms of muscles–a departure from my usual focus on skeletal structure, but just as interesting.

Neck Muscles.05

Neck Muscle Study, 2015

I’m still trying to decide how this will be displayed–either in the hoop, as shown here, or stretched around a wooden frame.

I’ve been both praised and criticized for showing embroidery in the hoop. Personally I don’t think there’s a problem with displaying it in a way that reflects the utilitarian tradition of the medium. That’s half the reason I do it: to connect the artwork to its roots. An embroidery hoop is a simple, elegant item, rife with history, and used in the right context, it can add another layer of meaning to the work it holds. Why shy away from that?
Neck Muscles.01

Love it or hate it, you have to admit that it’s visually striking to see a piece hanging like this: the raw edge of the fabric, the wrinkles, the shape of the whole thing. I’ll probably clean this up a bit before it’s shown anywhere, but if I’m being perfectly honest, I prefer it this way, loose threads and all.

Neck Muscles.04
What about you, fellow embroiderers? How do you hang your work?